Arthur Clarke's favorite thing to do in the world was to go scuba diving. You know why? I bet you can guess why. It was as close as he ever got to being an astronaut.
I like Clarke's idea that humanity as an organism is suicidal, and that humanity as an organism needs a project worthy of its genius to feel good, and that the only project of enough size and depth to distract us from our desire to die is the exploration of space.
I think every human death pissed off Arthur Clarke. He thought of death as a punishment for the martial and unimaginative, didn't he? People ought to live forever, and science is the way to do that.
They never let him go into space, and I think that is one of the bigger tragedies of the generation that will mourn him most. Here is this venerable, sad, good old man who inspires scientists, astronauts, JFK, and even Gene Roddenberry toward believing in space travel, and no one ever felt the need to send him up there to tell us about it.
We have put mathematicians in space, physicists, school teachers, and thugs: maybe someday we should put a writer up there to give us the poetry of it instead of the hoses, math, and pains.
He invented satellites, you know. But he never got to be one.
Here are Clarke's laws. The last one has inspired more good (and bad) science fiction stories than LSD or Sputnik.
1. "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
2. "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."
3. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Arthur C. Clarke had the same birthday as Catherine of Aragon, Beethoven, Jane Austen, Bill Hicks, and Philip K. Dick. They all died alone, and so did he. Some people say he was a pedophile, but I doubt it. He was probably just sad and difficult to be around. Sagittariuses, the lot of 'em, philosophers of the cosmos.
Maybe there is something to the stars after all.
Posted by miracle on Wed, 19 Mar 2008 13:11:45 -0400 -- permanent link